Thursday, April 23, 2015

SC justices shed light on Ombudsman's power to probe

See - SC justices shed light on Ombudsman's power to probe

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BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – When it passed Republic Act (RA) 6770 or the Ombudsman Act of 1989, Congress conditionally prohibited courts from issuing writs of injunction "to delay" an Ombudsman probe.
Section 14 of RA 6770 reads:
"Section 14. Restrictions – No writ of injunction shall be issued by any court to delay an investigation being conducted by the Ombudsman under this Act, unless there is a prima facieevidence that the subject matter of the investigation is outside the jurisdiction of the Office of the Ombudsman.
No court shall hear any appeal or application for remedy against the decision or findings of the Ombudsman, except the Supreme Court, on pure question of law."
Section 14 of RA 6770 became the subject of careful textual examination on Tuesday, April 21, during the 2nd day of oral arguments on the high-profile case of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales against Makati Mayor Erwin Jejomar "Junjun" Binay Jr.
With the politically charged nature of the case, Justice Marvic Leonen insisted that "the only fulcrum that we have is to look at the law itself" and "that is our only solace."
Associate Justices Leonen and Estela Perlas-Bernabe zoomed in on Section 14. They quizzed Binay's lawyers on the legality of the restriction, the meaning of "delay," the character of the "investigation," and the nature of the "appeal" or "remedy" contemplated under Section 14, among others.
In her petition to the Supreme Court (SC), Morales invoked the subject provision of the law in arguing against the 60-day temporary restraining order (TRO) and subsequent preliminary injunction issued by the Court of Appeals (CA) in favor of Binay.
The CA writ stopped the Ombudsman-ordered 6-month suspension of Binay Jr, while it decides on the main case of whether Morales erred in issuing the said suspension order.
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